It is easy to hear the phrase “Instagram Takeover” and think it is a few short posts to vary content within a company’s feed. Or, perhaps the very mention of the concept makes you shudder at the idea of giving someone outside of your organization free reign over your brand’s social media channels. No matter which side you take, there is one primary question every business should ask before letting someone else log in: “How will this contribute to the development of my brand?” Let’s start by looking at the three common questions of a takeover to gain a clearer understanding of how it actually does help meet your end goals.

What is it?

Hosting a takeover entails partnering with an influential person whose persona is in alignment with your brand and allowing them to curate internal content on your organization’s Instagram for a preset period of time. However, this is not just allowing an influencer to post a few images to your company’s profile. Though this is certainly part of the process, there are strategic steps every business can take to ensure the takeover is a smashing success.

The first step to hosting a successful takeover is identifying an influencer who aligns well with your brand and can echo your underlying voice. The reason your brand will allow this particular person to post on your platform is because he or she is influential in a market that your brand or organization has stock in. Not sure how you feel about influencers? We get it. See another stellar post on our blog, Rachel McAllister’s “Exploring the Big Gray Area of Influencer Marketing to gain a better understanding of their role in today’s world of marketing.

After vetting a brand-worthy influencer and establishing a mutual partnership, it’s vital to designate a #BrandedHashtag for your guest to use with every post. This will encourage your audience to stay tuned for more posts as your guest’s storyline unfolds, while acting as an aid to quantify the results of the takeover by reviewing engagement data generated by content labeled with the specific hashtag..”

Instagram also offers other options to explore for a takeover outside of the singular post. Though they last only 24 hours, Instagram Stories give your followers a glimpse behind the scenes and allow them to feel included in the experience posted in the feed. Typically, inclusion only leads to positive influence on your end goal.

Relinquishing the reins and letting someone else navigate the waters of your niche sea of followers doesn’t have to be a nail-biter. For those who are particularly wary, there is always the option of hosting a “delayed takeover” which allows you to execute all posting internally on behalf of the influencer– no password swapping required.

What does it do?

There is not necessarily one sole function of hosting an Instagram takeover. Just as you can tailor other avenues of advertising to hit target markets, social media (takeovers, in particular) can be targeted for specific goals and demographics.

Before beginning a takeover, it is important to identify what the win will be for your company at the end of the designated timeframe. Is it increasing engagement? Gaining new followers? Reaching a new demographic? Building awareness for an event? Driving web traffic? Knowing and communicating that goal with your partnered influencer will make the takeover a mutually beneficial endeavor for both you and your guest.

Further, just as Facebook rewards users who capitalize on the platform’s algorithm by leveraging video content, Instagram does the same. Instagram rewards Stories by not only positioning them at the top of users’ feeds but also placing them within the feed itself as “recent Stories” that users might have missed. This consistent and convenient Story placement helps keep your brand top of mind– especially with your most engaged audiences.

What do I do?

So you’ve found just the right influencer to partner with and created a hashtag that will drive engagement, extending beyond your brand’s normal reach while staying relevant. Now is the time to ensure that all participants are on the same page with the timeline of the takeover, as well as your brand’s pre-established parameters for moderating, tagging and engaging with audience members. These internal guidelines might also dictate language, appropriate dress, and even color scheme (depending on the industry and subject at hand).

Providing a checklist will equip you and your guest with a concise understanding of basic expectations, as well as what may and may not be included within each post. For example, if you want the influencer to use specific hashtags and user mentions, but prefer that he or she avoid posting URLs, then these preferences should be stated before the takeover begins. Along with a checklist of do’s and don’ts, creating a “wish list” for desired content will give the influencer an idea of what you expect for your brand’s voice and presence.

Remember, Instagram is not the only channel you can post to about the upcoming takeover – tell your other followers on platforms like Facebook and Twitter! After the agreement is in place, be sure to cross-promote the takeover on your respective social media channels. This means promoting your influencer’s upcoming appearance across all of your brands’ social accounts and ensuring that the influencer does the same. Letting your followers and their followers know ahead of time that a new face outside of the brand will be posting on your feed will compel viewers to engage with content during the takeover, resulting in heightened awareness and engagement for your brand.

Finally, the time has come for your host to take over – let them. Takeovers work best when the message is clear, concise and flows well. Remember to clear any scheduled posts that that would overlap with the influencer’s publishing schedule; popping in with a post from the host brand and not the influencer can interrupt the dialogue.

Once the takeover is complete, publicly thanking your guest is both a courteous and calculated way to top off the takeover campaign with one more post to drive traffic. Once all is said and done, the takeover has concluded and the influencer has signed off, measure the results to gauge the success. Without a measurement of your results, there is no way to fully understand the extent of the takeover and how it benefitted your company’s bottom line. Always remember to quantify the takeover by analyzing how your branded hashtag performed, how many followers you accumulated and the reach of the posts the influencer shared.

Instagram offers so many variables in posting, tagging and hashtagging that not using it to it’s fullest extent is squandering some return you could be gaining from your asset. The beauty of takeovers is that whether your end goal is to build awareness or generate engagement, adding this facet to your presence on the platform will focus on one goal in particular, but enhance all wins.

Author Stephen Covey advised to “start with the end in mind.” Taking this advice into consideration, what are your goals and who outside of your sphere of influence do you think will help further these goals? Prioritizing your end game and looking past your immediate geographic or demographic spheres will foster growth in not only your social following, but also in brand awareness.

Now, let go of the reins and let the takeover take over.